Bighorn National Forrest, South Dakota
Michael Adams, who is in his sixties, is a survivor of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells similar to leukemia and lymphoma. Michael has undergone three separate rounds of chemotherapy as well as an autologous bone stem cell transplant, where they took his own stem cells and transplanted them back into him. When we talked to him he was expecting to return to the hospital for another transplant, this time from a donor.
Michael enjoys the support and love of his family, composed of his wife, brother and sister. Michaels cancer was deemed treatable, but ultimately fatale and incurable. Before his sickness Michael was avid athlete, enjoying rock climbing, mountain climbing, and running. He still enjoys hiking but is limited physically due to his treatments.
But I’m fortunate my wife is an incredible support person for me. I have a great family network and a great network of friends, which I think are critical for anybody fighting cancer is a support network.
Don’t hide it. Everybody needs support, everybody needs to reach out, you know and say I need help. Nobody can do this alone it’s too big of a thing to do alone. Everybody that has cancer I think, that I’ve seen is a hero. Ordinary people are full of courage, but you can’t do it alone. So one of the most heroic things that somebody can do is just say I need help. To reach out to loved ones, children, parents, friends.
My brother came out from Oklahoma and took care of me for a little bit. And I felt very close to my brother during that, more than I think I have felt since we were kids. Because I’m two and a half years older than him, we’ve always been a pretty close family, but my cancer has brought us closer.
I am fortunate, it is a funny thing to say that you are fortunate when you have cancer but I mean I am fortunate I have seen people who are much worse off than I am, much sicker than I am. And I have seen people who are much younger than me much sicker than me, which I mean is just really a terrible thing to see.
It’s terrible to see young people in their twenties that are in there battling cancer. At least I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer until I was in my sixties, and so I’ve had a full life. And to see that somebody is in their twenties really makes me humble.
And last summer I did a big river trip on green river, white water rafting trip, and my wife and I had talked about going to Alaska this summer. Then the cancer came back and we still thought we could do that, we thought well if I go through the chemo and the chemo knocks the cancer down enough I can go to get a transplant again in the winter time and I’ll be healthy enough in the summer to do that.
I was told at one point that my chances of being alive in a year were one in three. I was told that I would probably be dead in three months. So I was told a number of things and we thought Alaska we can’t plan that, we can’t get airplane tickers, or anything like that, make reservations… we thought let’s just take a road trip. And we both love to camp, we both love being out in the mountains. So Let’s just take a road trip and go up to Montana and glacier national Park.
Well there is no way it can’t affect you. I mean it’s affected me. There are places I won’t let myself go. I won’t go down certain roads and go through certain gorges because it would be too depressing. But, I just made a decision that I will live my life as fully as I can live it. I owe that to myself I owe that to family, to live my life as well as I can with the time I have. I mean I could be around for another twenty years; it’s perfectly possible, even thirty years.
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